Tuesday, 9 February 2016

After The Last Dance by Sarra Manning

Two women. Two love affairs. One unforgettable story.

Kings Cross station, 1943. Rose arrives in London hoping to swap the drudgery of wartime for romance, glamour and jiving with GIs at Rainbow Corner, the famous dance hall in Piccadilly Circus. As the bombs fall, Rose loses her heart to a pilot but will lose so much more before the war has done its worst.

Las Vegas, present day. A beautiful woman in a wedding dress walks into a seedy bar and asks the first man she sees to marry her. When Leo slips the ring onto Jane's finger, he has no idea that his new wife will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

So when Jane meets Rose, now a formidable older lady, there's no love lost between them. But with time running out, can Rose and Jane come together to make peace with the tragic secrets that have always haunted their lives?

After the Last Dance is an extraordinary story of two women, separated by time but connected by fate, that will make you believe in the redemptive power of unexpected love.

Two seemingly completely different stories, one in the wartime London, the other modern Vegas, connected by Rose, a young girl in one, a formidable but ill old woman in the other. Young Rose was an interesting character. She also grew up to be pretty damn interesting too! But a 17 year old running away to London for adventure in the middle of the Blitz was quite ballsy. We meet modern Rose as her great nephew, Leo, runs back home after too many years away, with new wife in tow.

Rose was just incredible - if I can grow up to be like her, then I'm happy. From getting a job at Rainbow Corner and supporting the GI's and armed forces in London, to losing her heart, her friends and all sorts in the bombings, then gaining some perspective and some love back in helping house refugees. Then there's the adventures between the two narratives, her life with her love (who I won't name for spoilers), her booming real estate and art empire, her extended family.

Jane, on the other hand, took a while to warm up to. It was clear from the start that she was used to getting her way and used any sort of manipulation tactic to get it. Even in her head, she didn't open up about her past or how she got to where she is; she obviously didn't like to linger on her bad thoughts. But once we spent a bit more time with her, really got under her skin, you realised how damaged she was and how much she relied on her mask.

You all should know by now how much of a Manning fangirl I am, and even though this was adult and set out quite a bit differently to her other works, I still loved it. It had her classic story telling, her complex and plentiful characters, and a very well-researched historical half.

Published 10th March 2016 by Sphere. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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